New deal for de Gea, but same old manager in van Gaal
De Gea signs new deal, but still stuck with mad van Gaal
MAN UNITED v LIVERPOOL
(Tomorrow, 12.30am, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
David de Gea always expected to put pen to paper. It's the right time, but the wrong club.
The Manchester United goalkeeper pulled off the most dramatic U-turn since The Fast and The Furious yesterday by signing a four-year deal with the club.
He's come in from the cold and signed a pact with the most unpredictable Red Devil of them all.
He's handed an undeserving lifeline to Louis van Gaal.
Make no mistake, however many outcomes de Gea might have envisioned for himself, this wasn't one of them.
Two weeks ago, the Spaniard had it all worked out.
Straighten the club tie. Sit tight. Say nothing and let the inevitability of fate run its course.
He was made in Manchester, but born in Madrid. His roots would win out. Real Madrid always get their man and de Gea was the main man. The goalkeeper was ready for a riotous homecoming.
And then, the party got napalmed.
When he runs out to a fickle hero's welcome against Liverpool tomorrow morning (Singapore time), a confused de Gea could be forgiven for staggering around Old Trafford like an extra from The Walking Dead.
Liverpool are the traditional enemies, but the real enemy still lies within; the nagging voice that eats away at his Spanish DNA. The grass is always greener at the Bernabeu.
He should have left. He had earned the right to leave.
Instead, he returns to a war zone after an unresolved conflict, a stranger in his own land. He once won hearts. Now he's got to win back cynical minds.
In many respects, he's a victim of external circumstances, the latest to suffer at the hands of a mad manager and a maddening vice-chairman.
Van Gaal and Ed Woodward are proving to be the greatest comedy double act since Laurel and Hardy, producing one fine mess after another.
De Gea was just their latest cock-up. His only crime was to seek a return to the city of his birth, the home of his family and partner. But he ended up being punished by Laurel and Hardy's ineptitude.
Now he's got no choice but to sign a new deal at a time when his teammates might secretly be wishing to join him through the exit.
De Gea needs to make friends and influence people quickly to reassert his United position, but he returns to a divided dressing room.
According to several reports, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick have stressed their concerns to van Gaal over the tedious training routines and a lack of freedom of expression.
It's certainly coming through on match-days. United finished fourth last season, thanks mostly to de Gea, and are currently fifth, but it's hard to recall the Red Devils ever being this dull.
United are many things to many people. But they are rarely boring.
De Gea must also contend with an ego that sounds increasingly off-kilter with every outburst. Van Gaal titillates the masses, but must exasperate his men.
He had accused de Gea of not wanting to play for United, perhaps trying to curry favour at the expense of the popular goalkeeper.
De Gea's representatives vehemently denied the accusation, suggesting the Spaniard was "baffled" by the comments. It was one of the only times the reclusive keeper stuck his head above the media parapet.
With Real president Florentino Perez ruling out a move in January and the need for regular first-team football ahead of Euro 2016, de Gea found himself boxed in.
Now, his career depends on a coach who cannot really be trusted. He has no idea what van Gaal might say next. No one does.
If anything, he signed a new United deal in spite of van Gaal, not because of him.
United's manager has waged a cynical, negative media campaign against last season's best player, perhaps to squeeze a few more euros out of Real or to remind de Gea that no footballer is bigger than the club.
Either way, van Gaal got lucky.
He suddenly gets to pick a brilliant, committed goalkeeper despite mismanaging him for the last six weeks.
He had the simplest option available to him, the one taken by Roberto Martinez with John Stones. He should have simply picked de Gea.
But he didn't. He took potshots in press conferences instead.
So now, de Gea must rebuild both his career and his reputation and against Liverpool of all teams.
The Reds faithful will not go quietly into the night. The criticism will be cruel and merciless.
But de Gea can cope. He's endured worse from his own manager.
'He'll be here for many years'
David de Gea has signed a new four-year contract with Manchester United.
The announcement of the deal completes a remarkable turn of events after the Spain goalkeeper was on the brink of joining Real Madrid last week before the transfer collapsed on deadline day in Spain.
United said in a statement released on their official Twitter account: "David de Gea has signed a new four-year contract at #mufc with an option to extend for a further year."
De Gea added in an official club statement: "I am delighted to be starting this new chapter in my United career.
"I have always enjoyed playing with these great players in front of our fantastic fans. Manchester United are a special club and Old Trafford is an ideal place for me to continue to develop my career.
"I'm looking forward to putting a difficult summer behind me and concentrating on working hard to improve and help my teammates to be successful."
Louis van Gaal was understandably pleased by the fact that de Gea had committed his future to the club.
Said the United manager: "He is one of the best goalkeepers in world football. I am very pleased that he will be part of the team for many years to come."
With the saga behind him, de Gea is in line to start his first EPL game this season tomorrow morning (Singapore time) against Liverpool.
- PA Sport.
Don'ts for de Gea
1. Don't worry about your lack of match fitness
In United's six previous matches, you were not involved. You did nothing at all. Against Liverpool's attack, that's the perfect preparation.
In fact, you probably had more of a workout in those previous matches when you adjusted your tie.
2. Don't trust anything from van Gaal's mouth
He said Wayne Rooney was United's main striker. He also said he signed Anthony Martial to be Ryan Giggs' successor. If he says it's raining, check outside the window first. He makes less sense than United's transfer spending spree.
3. Don't expect too much love from United fans at first
They're still sore. After all, you had considered leaving grey, rainy Manchester, a city where the sun is treated like a UFO.
4. Don't expect any love from Pool fans
You broke their hearts. Life would've been perfect if United lost the man who had singlehandedly won them a key game against Liverpool last season.
Instead, the Reds are stuck with Rodgers, the man who singlehandedly lost most games last term.
5. Don't bother about the competition
It's Sergio Romero. Recently, he's looked like a confused South American tourist who took a wrong turn on an Old Trafford stadium tour and ended up between the posts.
6. Don't respond to anyone singing You'll Never Walk Alone.
The song is not about you. It's about the proud men of Merseyside, banding together in times of hardship and adversity. Rodgers gives them lots of practice.
How the de Gea saga turned out
2014 - United offer David de Gea a lucrative new contract.
2015, May 22 - Louis van Gaal reiterates his belief that de Gea will not leave for Real Madrid in the summer.
July 13 - Van Gaal names de Gea in his squad for the pre-season tour of the United States.
July 24 - After missing the first two games of the tour through injury, de Gea starts and plays well in United's 3-1 win over Barcelona in Santa Clara.
July 29 - De Gea is substituted at half-time during United's 2-0 loss to Paris St Germain in Chicago. Afterwards, van Gaal says "we have a situation that is not favourable for David de Gea, us and the club. He maybe wants to go to (Real Madrid)".
Aug 8 - Van Gaal says he did not pick the goalkeeper for the 1-0 season-opening win over Tottenham because he felt he was not able to focus because of Real's interest in him.
Aug 13 - Van Gaal reveals de Gea told goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek he did not want to play against Tottenham. The United manager says de Gea will not play for the club until after the transfer window closes.
Aug 31 - United agree a deal worth £29 million ($63.3m) for the sale of de Gea to Real, with Keylor Navas heading in the opposite direction, but the deal collapses after the correct paperwork is not submitted before the 11pm deadline.
Sept 1 - United and Real issue statements blaming each other for the collapse of the transfer.
Sept 8 - De Gea plays his first match of the season - Spain's Euro 2016 win over Macedonia.
Sept 10 - De Gea's family members and agent Jorge Mendes are spotted going into Carrington to discuss a new contract.
Yesterday - United confirm de Gea has signed a new four-year contract with United, with an option to extend for a further year.